An Australian received military training in the Ukraine and was travelling to West Papua to engage in “violent conflict” against the Indonesian government as a mercenary when intercepted by Australian authorities as he was about to board a flight to Papua New Guinea, a court has heard.
Gerard Michael Little, 45, who trained at the International Bodyguard Association in Ukraine, was refused bail in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday (05/12) after being charged with committing preparatory acts or performing drills for incursion into foreign states.
Little was seized in a multi-agency sting led by the Australian Federal Police at the Brisbane International Airport on Tuesday night as he tried to board a flight to Papua New Guinea, from where he intended to “island-hop” to West Papua, the court heard.
Commonwealth prosecutor Justin Williams said Little made admissions to police about his intentions and told them he had undertaken training in Ukraine in August.
He said the strength of the crown case was “overwhelming” and opposed bail on the grounds Little was a flight risk.
Magistrate Jacqui Payne refused Little’s bail application, saying there was an unacceptable risk he would flee.
Little allegedly told police in 2003 that he did not recognise the sovereignty of Australia or its laws.
The case was adjourned until January 18 for mention.
Australia fully recognises Indonesia’s sovereignty over its Papua and West Papua provinces. Australia’s support for Indonesia’s control was explicitly set out in the 2006 Lombok Treaty.
Asked about the position earlier this year, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said: “It would be a reckless Australian indeed who wanted to associate himself with a small separatist group which threatens the territorial integrity of Indonesia.”
In Papua New Guinea on Wednesday, Senator Carr told reporters it was a matter for the courts and declined to comment.
Meanwhile, in Indonesia’s West Papua province, police arrested an Ukrainian citizen during a rally dedicated to the 51st anniversary of the separatist movement of Free Papua Organization (OPM) on December 2nd.
Artem Shapirenko, 36, who entered Indonesia on a tourist visa that expired four months ago, joined the rally and yelled “Papua Merdeka” as police caught him.(*wpnn)